Improving energy outputs from flexible piezoelectric energy harvesters

This PhD project is based at the University of Melbourne with a 12 month stay at University of Manchester.

Project Description:

Energy is all around us but not all is currently harvested. With an increasing emergence of always-on, portable, wearable and implantable electronic devices, it is of great importance to investigate the viability of sustainable energy harvesting technologies. Materials which generate electricity through mechanical motion, termed piezoelectrics, offer a unique opportunity to generate energy on either an on-needs basis or be stored for later use. A piezoelectic material which is of particular significance is the flexible fluoropolymers – allowing energy harvesting through the mechanical bending of the material. The limitation of this however, is current processing techniques required to maximise the piezoelectric effect within these materials is costly and, itself, energy intensive. Thus, this project aims to use 3D printing to print fluoropolymers with nanomaterials that impart different electrostatic interactions within the entire material to produce increased piezoelectricity.

A student eligible for this project will have a degree in materials science, chemistry, chemical engineering or equivalent. During the course of the project, the student will gain expertise in 3D printing of nanocomposites, molecular dynamic simulations, preparation of piezoelectric devices, characterisation of piezoelectric devices by electrical, microscopy and mechanical testing. The student will also gain expertise in flexible energy harvesters, molecular modelling, and device manufacturing.

The successful applicant will spend 30 months at The University of Melbourne working in the Nanotechnology Hub as well as a further 12 months of their PhD at the University of Manchester in the Nanofunctional Materials Group, which has world-leading expertise in nanomaterials and composite production, characterisation and applications.

Supervision team:

Prof Amanda Ellis, Dr Eirini Goudeli (University of Melbourne)

Dr Aravind Vijayaraghavan, Dr Patricia Gorgojo (University of Manchester)